UCLA broadcaster Chris Roberts, who called the football and men’s basketball play-by-play for 23 seasons before retiring, died May 12 at his Glendora, Calif., home at age 74. He had complications of Parkinson’s disease, according to the university.
Roberts began calling games in the fall of 1992 through the spring of 2015, in the process setting a local record for calling NCAA Division I games on Los Angeles radio. His final season with the Bruins was in 2014-15, when Roberts equaled Fred Hessler’s record for the longest tenured play-by-play broadcaster in UCLA history.
Roberts called 16 bowl games, including the Bruins’ Rose Bowl appearances on January 1, 1994 and January 1, 1999. Roberts also broadcast the men’s basketball team for 19 trips to the NCAA Tournament. That included the 1995 NCAA Tournament Championship.
The author of two books, Stadium Stories: UCLA Bruins and UCLA Football Vault, which he co-wrote with Bill Bennett, Roberts was an eight-time nominee for the SCSBA’s Play-by-Play Broadcaster of the Year Award and a voter for both the Heisman Trophy and the John R. Wooden Award. He was a four-time Golden Mike Award winner and a Hall of Fame member in the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association (SCSBA).
Born Bob LaPeer in Alhambra, Calif., Roberts played baseball at Cal Poly Pomona and began his career in broadcasting at KCIN in Victorville. He spent time on the air at KREO in Indio and KWOW in Pomona, where he announced high school and junior college sports.
Roberts was at KFXM in San Bernardino in 1970 when the program director at the station asked him to change his name. He later moved to Los Angeles and worked at KUTE-FM, KFI and sister station KOST, and later at KMPC. He served as the play-by-play voice at Long Beach State for 10 years before UCLA.
During his 23-year tenure as UCLA’s play-by-play broadcaster, Roberts worked alongside former quarterbacks David Norrie, Matt Stevens and Wayne Cook. With the men’s basketball team, Roberts’ radio analysts over the years had included Marques Johnson, Mike Warren, Bob Myers, Don MacLean and Tracy Murray.
Roberts is survived by his wife Ann LaPeer, son David LaPeer and daughter-in-law Yvette LaPeer, daughter Nichole Hijon-LaPeer, son-in-law Octavio Hijon and grandchildren Andrés, Santiago and Carmen.